Like it or not, Web3 is coming, and Vancouver is at the centre of it
Scratching the surface on how Vancouver tech leaders (and investors) are paving the way for the decentralized web.
There is a lot of attention swirling around Web3, especially here in Vancouver. I’m going to try to crack the surface about the basics and some key examples of what’s being done in the industry right now, but by no means am I going to cover everything that’s happening in the sector. There are just too many layers, and the sector is evolving too fast for this one post to cover Web3 with the thoroughness it deserves.
My goal is to get the conversation started and introduce you to how Vancouver’s tech leaders are paving the way for Web3.
Imagine a new, evolved internet that not only accurately interprets what you input, but actually understands everything you convey, whether through text, voice or other media. An internet that — most importantly — tracks the ownership of your data and content, and honours who should benefit financially from its use and consumption.
We are at the tipping point of a new phase in the web’s evolution, where layers of technology like machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain are drastically improving on what is now possible online. Some early pioneers call it Web3 and it encompasses layers such as crypto, DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, AI/ML, cyber security, VR, AR, Metaverse, and so much more.
For those that are actively building in it, Web3 is clearly the future. For those on the outside looking in, it may seem like a bunch of nonsense and artificial hype, but the truth is we’ve been here before. Back in the 90’s (Web1), it was a struggle to just get companies to even consider registering a domain name, let alone paying for a website. Then in the 2000’s (Web2) the challenge was convincing businesses to consider not just displaying products online but actually selling products virtually and accepting payments digitally. Companies then had to quickly adjust their strategies when mobile phones with an internet connection came along.
The next decade saw a wave of skepticism towards the value in the creation of content ‘for fun’ and how to realistically achieve monetary gains from that content — think YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and yes, TikTok. More recently the monetization argument has taken centre stage with creators wanting their share of the pie that all of the major platforms had traditionally kept for themselves. Looking back, most people regret not jumping on each layer of this digital evolution sooner and not having invested in these companies back when they were just getting started. Would you have liked to have been an early investor in GoDaddy, PayPal, YouTube or Instagram? Well, the opportunities to own and control your data, content and financial opportunities are now presenting themselves in the form of Web3.
What is Web3?
Web3 is a natural evolution of original web tools that we have come to be familiar with. Web3 tools are a combination of old tools upgraded with cutting-edge technologies like AI and blockchain, as well as new tools built from the ground up thanks to new technology built through a new lens shaped by shifts in societal views, new views on online culture, connectivity, transparency, community and ownership of content. By all accounts, Web3 is an upgrade to its precursors: Web1 and Web2.
What people are saying about Web3
Very few people realize how many key companies and thought leaders involved in Web3 are based in Vancouver. A couple of key leaders in the city regularly tweet about how Web3 has evolved and its future:
Crypto: a math-based currency built on cryptographic principles.
Blockchain: the underlying technology used to store and access data in a decentralized manner.
Web3: concepts, ideas and applications being built on the blockchain. DAOs, NFTs, DeFi, etc.
Web 2.0: user-generated content (UGC). Centralized co’s own content & decide when/who to share it with. Users get hearts & likes in return.
Web 3.0: user-generated assets (UGA). Creators own their content, decide who/when/how to share it and get crypto in return when they sell it.
Who are the key players in Vancouver?
The list is extensive and there is no way I can cover everyone in this blog post but here are a few notable names from my own network that you can dig into. Also, it should be noted that the power of Web3 is in decentralization and as such most of these companies are building global businesses with distributed teams.
Dapper Labs (born out of Axiom Zen) uses the power of play to deliver blockchain-based experiences and digital collectibles that are made for you and ready for the real world. Their NFT product line to date includes Top Shot, CryptoKitties and Cheeze Wizards, with a combined total of $740M+ in sales with a valuation of over $7B (USD). They are creators of the Flow blockchain, which is positioned to create smooth and efficient experiences for entertainment-related NFT projects.
Manifold enables web3 creators to have true creative ownership, preserve on-chain provenance and interoperate with all major NFT marketplaces. Their ‘Manifold Creator’ includes a powerful extension framework that allows creators to install blockchain “apps” into their creator contract, and their ‘Manifold Studio’ creates a seamless user interface to mint NFTs with zero coding required.
Covalent provides a unified API bringing visibility to billions of blockchain data points. With 25 billion rich transactions indexed including every transaction since genesis for 6 blockchains and 200K+ smart contracts available with internal data structures for querying, Covalent provides a robust data infrastructure for the entire blockchain ecosystem.
Gitcoin is on a mission to build an internet that is open source, collaborative, and economically empowering. They are creating community and infrastructure for web3 — a diverse range of tools, technologies, and networks that enable people to work for the open internet. By funding projects, building community, and making learning resources accessible, they are teaming up to create the digital public infrastructure of tomorrow.
Annika Lewis is leading their Grant program from Vancouver.
After a successful DeFi Summit (www.defisummit.com) conference with 120+ speakers including Mark Cuban in June and NFTCON (www.nftcon.co) in Oct, Esther is currently working on the in-person conference DCentral Miami 2021 during Art Basel Week which is dedicated to bringing the community together for DeFi and NFTs.
The Big Head Club is an NFT studio, making strange and marvellous NFTs that stand the test of time, including Late Afternoon Drizzle, Stoner CatsGhost Busters, and exploring ancient samurai ideals and unique NFT mechanics through Oni Ronin.
Westcoast NFT is a full service, world class NFT development agency. From custom smart contract development and deployment to a fully integrated web3 drop site, West Coast NFT takes care of the tech to ensure that your NFT drop is a success. Some recent collabs include drops like Secret Society of Whales, Hall of Fame Goat Lodge, 888 Inner Circle, and Doodles.
Looking Glass Labs is a digital agency specializing in NFT architecture, immersive extended reality metaverse design and virtual asset royalty streams. Its top brand, House of Kibaa, is a digital studio at the forefront of technologies in the blockchain, NFT and XR metaverse sectors.
FvckRender - Frederic Duquette
Futuristic tech-digital artist Fvckrender is a self-taught creative artist working out of Vancouver. With a defining affinity for sharp architectural geometry, beaming future landscapes and brilliant crystalline arrangements, his renders pay a dark homage to what may eventually reflect our very existence. Clients include Supreme, Softest Hard, Columbia Records, Lil Nas X, Puma, Spotify, Instagram and more.
Victor Mosquera is an illustrator and concept artist based in Vancouver, specializing in creating psychedelic dreamscapes. Mosquera recently released his first collection of crypto animations on Nifty Gateway.
Baeige1 - Jo-Anie Charland
Baeige1 is a self-taught digital artist based in Vancouver. Her art reflects her appreciation for architecture, surrealist landscapes and interior design. She creates with the idea of escaping the stressful reality in which we live in, even just for a moment.
Doodles is a community-driven collectibles NFT project. Doodle NFTs are made up with over a hundred exciting traits of faces, hair, hats, body and backgrounds. Each Doodle is a unique, non-fungible token (NFT) on the Ethereum blockchain. @doodles crossed $100M USD sales volume in one month. They launched using only Twitter, Discord, and the blockchain.
Holding a Doodle allows you to participate in coordinating the Doodles Community Treasury. This Treasury will be seeded with 420 ETH. Holders can vote for experiences, activations and campaigns that benefit the Doodles.
GameOn powers the most-watched content in the world with the most innovative white label fan engagement technologies. GameOn provides broadcasters, TV networks, OTT platforms, leagues, tournaments, sportsbooks and NFTs with interactive, social experiences around sports, television and live events. Through their gamification technologies and meta-layers, including first-of-its-kind NFT integration, GameOn brings fans closer to their favorite sports and entertainment content and increases engagement through community, competition and rewards.
Immersive Tech is building the Physical Metaverse. Since 2016 the company has been an industry leader in social entertainment and VR/AR entertainment attractions. With its hardware platform UNCONTAINED and its software platform Uncontained/OS, the company helps its customers build user experiences unmatched in realism, depth and immersion. Clients include Intel, Bayer, Capital One, Scotia Bank, the US Food and Drug Administration, Allegiant Airlines and more.
Shape Immersive is a group of designers, software developers, technology entrepreneurs, investors, forward-looking dreamers and rock-solid project managers. They develop NFT technology for the exchange of 3D and augmented reality assets: SOL, ETH, POLYGON, IPFS. They develop leading AR experiences on AR Foundation, iOS, Android, Spark AR, 8th Wall ++. They conceptualize, design and model AAA 3D assets that power AR, VR and interactable digital products and collectibles.
A Thinking Ape creates mobile games with a social core that engages players and provokes us with creative new problems. Kenshi himself is an avid crypto enthusiast, an active investor in NFTs and a collector of digital art.
East Side Games is a proudly independent and profitable game studio. Their games fund all their new projects, and everyone who works at East Side Games has a direct impact on the day-to-day business. Purpose-built technology infrastructure powers their rapid, iterative prototyping, based directly on audience feedback. East Side Games, is set to launch an NFT game creation toolset called NFTKit for its IdleKit platform. The company plans to release the first offering of NFTs as prizes, within select games.
Beatdapp is making investments in research and development to create an industry-leading fraud detection and mitigation platform. They apply machine learning and custom rules to our global streaming dataset to detect bad actors, streaming farms, and fraud. They help music labels and artists track their songs to collect royalties. Beatdapp is a tracking system that authenticates, verifies, and validates media streamed in real-time. It reduces the tracking discrepancies between Digital Service Providers (DSPs) and rights holders, increasing royalty revenue for rights holders while limiting legal exposure, expensive audit costs, and lawsuits for DSPs. Think of it like a PWC for music play count!
Vankrupt Games was founded in 2019 after the success of Pavlov VR (2017) on Steam and has since grown from a single developer to a small studio that continues to expand. They pride themselves on being on the bleeding edge of VR game design despite the company's young age.
Benny Giang is a founding team member of Dapper Labs — creator of NBA Top Shot and Crypto Kitties. His work explores the intersections between culture, community and crypto.
Helping museums create and promote rare NFTs to protect valuable assets, generate new revenue streams, and reach collectors around the world. Momentable is an NFT e-commerce platform focused on helping museums, art collectors, and cultural institutions create, manage, and promote NFT-based digital products and collections on the Flow blockchain.
Cryptopharaohs.world, one of the first projects under the Momentable platform, begins as a collection of 7006 majestic NFT collectibles with aspirations to be a game.
Investors in Vancouver
Arguably, we are just at the infancy of early-stage Web3 applications, and until the new layers are fully embedded in the web infrastructure, their true potential is yet to be seen.
Ray Walia founded Launch Ventures which owns and operates a network of proprietary accelerators, innovation labs, and investment funds. The most prominent incubator is Launch Academy, Western Canada’s leading entrepreneurship facility, which has worked with more than 6,000 entrepreneurs of which 300 have grown their startups to Seed and Series A stage and raised over $1.2 billion in funding.
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